This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness. Many of you are familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.
No, this isn’t a hugely belated coming out post. I am pretty sure it’s already abundantly clear that I am a gay man. I am uncloseted in as much of my life as I can manage (more or less) and slowly trying to push back the last vestiges of the closet that still shadow me (though that largely requires society to improve rather than me)
No, here I am talking about the express wording. I am gay. And what that means to me, personally.
And the important word here is “am”.
I did not say “I do gay”. I did not say “I have gay sex”. I did not say “I have a same-sex attraction”. Or “I have a sexual preference for men”.
That is because being gay is what I am. Not what I do. Not what I think.
I knew I was gay before I ever touched another man sexually. Oh I hated it and fought it and tried to deny it at first – but I knew I was gay years before sex came into the picture. When I was a virgin, I was gay.
This is my identity. To me, this is part of who I am, a major, fundamental part of who I am. This is my life, my love and above all – this is ME.
Someone asked me once if I would prefer being straight – wouldn’t life be easier? (My first answer was “nope – being gay has never brought anything bad to my life. Homophobia has screwed me 6 ways from Sunday”) And I couldn’t answer that. Because a heterosexual Sparky doesn’t exist. A heterosexual Sparky would no longer be Sparky, it wouldn’t be me. It would be missing such a major part of what makes me me, that it would no longer be Sparky. I cannot picture myself as a straight person and have that person still ring as me.
And this means numerous things to me. And foremost among them is I’m less than happy when people try to divorce me from my sexuality.
You cannot “hate the sin and not the sinner.” That sin is a part of my identity. It is me. And I resent the idea that it is a sin, that I am a sin – let alone that you try to slice out a part of me to hate in a way that I am supposed to find ok.
You cannot tell me you like me as a person, an acquaintance or (gods forbid) as a friend but then express disapproval, dislike or (hell no) disgust about homosexuality. You cannot hate homosexuality without hating me – not what I do, not even what I love, not even who I love – me.
Relatedly, there are several phrases that serve to reduce or distance me from my sexuality that come up time and again that annoy me, though your mileage may vary.
I dislike the term “Sexual preference”. I have many preferences. I prefer beef to pork. I prefer broccoli to cauliflower. I prefer coffee to tea. I prefer urban life to rural life. I prefer red to blue. I prefer blond men with hairless chests. There are lots of things I prefer, things I’d rather have, things I have an inclination towards. None of them is my sexuality. my sexuality is not a preference – something vague and nebulous, maybe inclined to change but ultimately not all that important. My sexuality isn’t an inclination, a vague desire or a matter of taste – it is who and what I am and far deeper and more vital to me as a person than my preferences.
Similarly, I don’t like it when people speak of my sexuality as “who you sleep with/have sex with.” Even when it’s meant in a positive ways “why do people care what other people do in their bedrooms?” Or “Who you sleep with is your business.” As I say above, my sexuality is not just about the kind of sex I have. If I were celibate or still a virgin I would be no less gay than I am right now. Again, being gay is who I am – it isn’t a kink, a fetish or a sex act (I have my kinks, I have my fetishes and I certainly have great fun with a whole lot of sex acts – but my being gay is none of these things). I could do nothing in my bedroom but sleep, read and throw things from the windows at the neighbours and I’d still be gay.
Reducing being gay to acts, to habits, to inclinations – to hobbies – reduces me as a person and is one of the many tricks by the usual suspects to deny us our basic rights and generally treat us like the dirt under their shoes. You cannot separate Sparky the person from Sparky the gay man – we are not separate entities and you cannot embrace Sparky without also embracing my ‘gayness’.
I am a gay man. This is me, part of the whole of me and an integral part of me. I cannot be separated from it and it cannot be dismissed without dismissing me with it. It cannot be diminished without diminishing me, it cannot be disrespected without disrespecting me and it cannot be hated without hating me.